Self Portrait as Pshat

(Torah study, concrete poem, sound, Torah cantillation, live installation. Self portrait.)

Text consisting of 251 verses of Torah, including 47 occurances of ‘Tova’ as a feminine adjective, 27 as a noun; 175 direct references to ‘Aharon’ (without an article). Over a series of evenings, the collection of verses is projected onto the walls and windows of the gallery. At night the projected text is traced by the artist in pencil onto the walls, and in conte onto the windows. This will take many hours, and constitutes the performance element of the installation. Recordings of the text chanted play continuously in the space.

Hypothesis: It is written in Talmud, “kish mo kayn hu“; that is to say, one’s name both mirrors and shapes a person. In Zohar it is explained that the individual is not named by one’s parents, and that the parents are only a conduit for this predestined information. What then, are the implications of a bi-gendered name? Given that gender is not necessarily located in the physical body, is it possible to articulate a transgendered portrait without representing a body?



Exhibition history:

2001 “Print/Mass” School of the Art Institute of Chicago/Gallery 2. Ellen Rothenberg, Greg Sholette, curators.

Publication history:

Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community, Noach Dzmura (ed.), North Atlantic, 2010.